Liberty Teller, the bitcoin ATM operator that manages machines in high-profile locations near US universities like Harvard and MIT, has officially rebranded as LibertyX, expanding its network with 2,500 new bitcoin buying locations in 33 US states.
The announcement marks a dramatic expansion for the Boston-based company, which has partnered with transaction processing specialist Qpay to launch cash-for-bitcoin buying services at mobile phone and convenience stores around the country. LibertyX manages four ATM machines, but sees this new partnership as a way to expand and innovate its business.
LibertyX co-founder Chris Yim explained that his company, which was accepted into the MassChallenge startup accelerator this summer, will now seek to shift away from bitcoin ATMs, more broadly embracing a variety of cash-for-bitcoin channels.
Yim told CoinDesk:
“If you look at our Harvard [bitcoin ATM] location, it’s very high volume, high traffic, it makes sense because you have a lot of people coming in and out. But, the US is extremely large geographically, and we want to make sure that you can buy bitcoin as conveniently as you can go to your local bank.”
Yim went on to suggest that the new partnership would allow LibertyX to offer the lowest-cost cash option for bitcoin buying, as the involvement of retail stores limits the overhead that can come with leasing space for a dedicated bitcoin ATM.
He added that the service with be fee-free for new users at launch to encourage enrollment.
Making a purchase
To buy bitcion at LibertyX’s new retail partner locations, consumers must set up a user account online, linking their phone number and providing details such as their name and date of birth.
Users who want to purchase bitcoin can then enter their zip code, which will in turn bring up an interactive map of LibertyX’s nearby locations.
The website features a step-by-step tutorial advising new users on how to interact at the point of sale. Purchases can be made in increments of $50, $100, $200 or $300. In return, users receive a PIN number that they then enter into the LibertyX website, at which time LibertyX sends this amount of bitcoin to the user’s wallet.
Yim further downplayed the notion that retail employee confusion could occur at checkout.
“In terms of what the dealer actually does, they’re providing the cash channel, accepting the cash,” he said. “Bitcoin redemption, user signup – that all happens on our site.”
Embracing traditional finance
More broadly, Yim explained that he sees bitcoin’s ATM sector as providing a necessary onramp to bitcoin today, though he suggested he sees this importance diminishing over time.
“I think that bitcoin is a great add-on and should be integrated into all ATMs. It doesn’t make sense to have a new machine when all that’s required is additional lines of code,” he said.
Yim went on to suggest that ATM providers that embrace bitcoin may gain a new way to increase their revenue streams, an idea that has been proposed by trade groups such as the Electronic Funds Transfer Association (EFTA) and the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA).
Yim concluded that LibertyX aims to position itself to capitalize on this transition, concluding:
“I for one would love to work with any ATM or banking partners that are looking to deploy this.”